This is a partnered post.
In the US, more than 20 percent of 12-19-year-olds are obese, and many more overweight. As a parent, this is a worrying stat because we all know obese children tend to turn into obese adults with all of the health risks that brings. That’s why it’s so important that all of us parents do whatever we can to encourage our kids to be as fit and healthy as possible.
If you currently have a tween who isn’t as active as you think they could be, now is the perfect time to make a change before they become a full-blown teenager and even less likely to engage. But how exactly do you encourage your tweens to get active?
Take it slow
If you don’t have the most active kid on your hands, you’ll need to take it slow. Start by having them play catch with you in the yard for 10 minutes or go for a short walk around the block with the dog in tow. When they’re used to that, add an extra five minutes or a few more feet on and keep doing that until you’ve built up to around an hour of daily activity. It may take a while, depending on how engaged your kid is, but if you keep at it, you will start to see some decent results.
Be a great role model
As a parent, it’s up to you to set a good example for your kids. That means, if you’re serious about having them take more exercise, you need to get up and go for a run, do some yoga or whatever it is that floats your boat while getting your moving too. That way there can be no arguments that they don’t need to exercise because you don’t, and chances are once they see how much fun you’re having, they’ll want to join in too.
Do something they love
Tweens have so much access to exciting media, video games and so on that, if you want to truly have them love being active, you need to figure out a way of competing with their favorite Youtuber or that one game they love, and that won’t be easy. It’ll be even harder if you try to push them into playing baseball when they really have no interest in it, just because you think they should.
It’s far better to explore ideas with your child, see what kind of things most appeal to them, and then choose an activity that’s as close as possible to that. For example, if your kid just loves Pokemon, you could get the Pokemon Go app on your phone and spend an hour out catching monsters as you walk together or if your kid loves to dance around to pop hits, enrolling them in a modern dance class could be a good idea. Every tween is an individual and you need to treat them as such if you want to get them to a point where they love moving regularly.
Have them earn screen time
If you really can’t seem to compete with screen time, you may need to get a little tougher and have your tween earn their screen time by doing a set amount of activity each day. They may rebel against this, but if you give them the option of earning screentime with any kind of activity from pulling weeds in the garden to hiking on a local trail to trending karate class, chances are they will come around. After all, you’re giving them not one but two choices – the choice to earn screen time or not and the choice of activity with which they can earn that screen time.
Make it a competition
If your family are the kind of family that loves competing against each other at everything from Monopoly to who can eat the most meat at the BBQ, a really good way of getting your tweens engaged in exercise is by turning it into a competition.
You can buy really cheap and effective fitness trackers right now, so buy one for each member of your family and have a weekly competition to see who can get the most steps in/ burn the most calories/climb the most sets of stairs or whatever would work for you. The winner gets to choose the restaurant for dinner on Sunday or if that doesn’t work for you, a small token of some kind. You’d be surprised how effective this technique can be!
Buy them a new outfit
The tweens are when a lot of kids start to care more about the way they look. If you have one of these fashion-conscious kids, you could get them on board by taking them to the men’s sportswear store, rather than a kids one, and having them pick out a cool new outfit that’s designed with movement in mind. Once they have their outfit, they’ll want to show it off on the school track or the local yoga club and hopefully, that will be enough to spur them on.
Let them try lots of things
There is a school of thought that once a child has picked an activity to get involved in, they must stick with it no matter what. This makes a lot of kids miserable and has them quitting as soon as their parents finally relent. It’s far healthier to let your kids try out a broad range of activities because that way they’re more likely to find an activity they do love, and it won’t feel like a chore or punishment to have to turn up day after day.
Raising active kids isn’t always easy but it’s so important for their health and wellbeing that it is really worth persevering with. Some of the suggestions above may help you to get them moving with less fuss, and some may not be too helpful for your particular family, but try them all out and see what works for you because a healthy kid is a happy kid.